Kutchan Handrail Session
We met a new friend Scott Walker, who lined up some rooms at The Australia House, (a great place to stay in Hirafu Village) right at the base of Niseko Grand Hirafu Ski Area in exchange for some photo/video barter trade. He also generously gave us his van for a few days so we could explore more of the local area and try to find some spots to snowboard that weren’t easily accessible by walking from Hirafu Village.
We received word the previous day from our friend Tim Cole about a sick handrail in the city of Kutchan. Since the snow wasn’t perfect, we headed into town to check it out. The crew was Seth Hill, Andy Stern, and I (Jeremy Dubs). Scott handed us a local tourist map and drew out the directions to the spot for us before he handed us the keys to his 4×4 van and sent us on our way. Seth had picked up an international driver’s license before he came over from the states, so he was assigned driver duties for the trip.
It was going to be an interesting ride since in Japan they drive on the left side of the road and Seth was about to have his first experience with that. We set up his Drift Innovation HD Ghost Wi-Fi Waterproof Digital Video Action Camera Camcorder
for a time-lapse and headed out onto the icy streets. The only mishaps were the fact that Seth kept hitting the windshield wipers instead of the turn signals and he had to learn how to shift with his left hand.
We found the bridge with little trouble and walked over to scope the spot. Its a really nice location for filming with basically the same hand rails on either side of the train overpass. Seth elected to try the bigger side with a 42 stair double-kink aluminum rail, where he was going to attempt a frontside 50-50. An insanely strong wind started up as soon as we finished building the drop-in to the jib. With it came what was basically a 36˚F or 3˚C snowfall, which meant it was big, wet flakes. Seth was practically getting blown over as he waited on the top of the bridge to hit the feature.
It was so gnarly that the camera lenses were in constant need of wiping to keep the shots looking good and not having water drips on them. A few Japanese school girls were walking by and decided to cheer Seth on despite the horrible weather. It was a classic situation where we tried to communicate and the best I could do was say “Sugoi?” (which translates to “cool”) and point at the rail. And they in turn would say “Sugoi!” We nailed a few great photos and they asked us to pose for photos with them on their cellphones, before heading on their way. Hopefully they check out this article because we spent about fifteen minutes trying to explain that we had a website called japansnowboarding.com and that they should read it to see the photos of the day.
All I can say is that we ended up really soaking wet and that Seth walked away with a goose-egg on his head, but content with the footage and photos we ended up with. You’ll have to wait for the video to see what happened, but it was pretty Sugoi.